Nick Sirianni wants DeVonta Smith returning punts when Eagles need a spark

NFL: JAN 02 Eagles at Washington Football Team
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NFL teams rarely use their best offensive playmakers as kick returners, thinking the injury risks aren’t worth the big-play rewards. But Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith got the first punt return of his NFL career on Sunday at Washington, and it may not be the last time.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said he put Smith in, rather than usual punt returner Britain Covey, because he thought it was a situation where the Eagles could use a big play. Smith returned the punt 12 yards.

“We wanted a little spark,” Sirianni said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It wasn’t a slight by any means on Britain. We just wanted to get the ball in DeVonta’s hands when they were backed up. He did a nice job of getting some yardage off of that.”

Smith had eight catches for 169 yards during the game, so he made a much bigger impact on offense than on special teams, but Sirianni thinks Smith can continue to make an impact as a returner.

“We’ll see how that goes, what that turns into,” Sirianni said. “As of right now, it’s a spot thing. But who knows? We’ll see how that goes, continue to see how the season goes.”

In his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Alabama in 2020, Smith returned 11 punts for 237 yards, an impressive 21.5-yard average. His first NFL punt return likely won’t be his last.

10 responses to “Nick Sirianni wants DeVonta Smith returning punts when Eagles need a spark

  1. I think the Cowboys used to do something like that with Deion Sanders. I like it. You can’t predict injuries. Guys get hurt all the time on non-contact plays. Some guys never get hurt. Some guys always get hurt. It’s a contract sport. You don’t invest all that in a guy just to keep him on the sidelines. You get guys like Smith because you want him to help your team win. That’s what coaches are supposed to do.

  2. More teams should do this with their most dynamic player…..we’re not talking about every punt, just one or two when the team is down or needs a little better field position late in the game. Tyreke did it for the Chiefs recently , why not?

  3. Most teams don’t do this? Maybe the players you consider high profile guys just aren’t better than the team’s other options. I’ve seen the Cowboys do it with several star players. Hill did it with the Chiefs. DeSean Jackson did it throughout his career. Like the coach said you just pick and chose your spots to do it. It’s more common than you made it out to be.

  4. Other than the years where we had B-West of Desean Jackson returning punts, our return unit has been atrocious. It’s to the point where all I ask is they just don’t muff the punt of field the punt at the 5. If you’re not going to help us, just don’t hurt us.

  5. kennylc629 says:
    September 28, 2022 at 10:53 am
    Other than the years where we had B-West of Desean Jackson returning punts, our return unit has been atrocious. It’s to the point where all I ask is they just don’t muff the punt of field the punt at the 5. If you’re not going to help us, just don’t hurt us.
    ——–
    Man, you already forgot about sproles?? Not cool, bud.

  6. supercharger says:
    September 28, 2022 at 9:08 am
    Bad idea.
    ————————

    I am in total agreement. It is a long season and for what? 10 more return yards once or twice a month. Good way of getting the guy with the slightest frame in the NFL injured. Cowboys are coming for the Eagles. You might want to preserve a good player. Or not with some no name special teamer trying to earn a contract or ’23 with a hard hit on Smith. There is a reason most teams have a specific guy.

  7. When Jackson got older Reid took him away from it but then he used it the same way even though Jackson wasn’t the main returner anymore

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